Despite the continuing rise in attention being given to purchase to pay (P2P) processes, there are still a large number of organizations who are reluctant to automate, let alone optimize, these business activities. Indeed, it’s almost strange that the P2P process has flown under the radar for so long, when it’s so well suited to automation and significant improvements in speed and accuracy.

Increased control over and more insight into the purchase process
The path from request to payment involves a number of key players. And the more people that are involved, the greater the chance that information is polluted or goes missing completely. When the data is handled digitally, the chance of information leakage is significantly decreased. Requests going missing or remaining unanswered becomes a thing of the past.

Every employee can trace every request they’ve been involved in instantly, gaining immediate insight into its current status. The manager and budget holder has real time insight into the current situation versus the financial planning, seeing all requests and write offs as they happen to keep fully up to date with the actual financial position of the company and remain in complete control.

In addition, employees or departments will find it much harder to sneak ‘maverick’ purchases or payments through without first following the proper procedures. Maverick payments happen when employees misuse their ability to circumvent purchase ordering procedures to place and then sign off requests themselves. Preventing this sort of activity from taking place is difficult without communicating the serious sanctions that it will attract, and without having an effective system to ensure all requests are signed off by the right people and that budgeting is respected and protected.

This last point can be addressed by having an automated P2P system in place, the associated permissions system making it very difficult for any improper orders to be placed without it becoming clear to the relevant stakeholders. The purchase department is presented with one total overview of the current situation with all suppliers, current orders and pending requests available – in combination with all other relevant information around purchasing contracts, terms and conditions and other relevant purchasing/supplier documentation.

The finance department also avoids any nasty surprises when the purchase invoices land on their mat. They’ve already been fully informed long in advance, and simply need to match up the amounts involved to the approved purchase requests.

In part 3, we’ll consider impact on efficiency, bottlenecks and environmental benefits.